(RNS) — There are times when God interrupts the daily flow of life with huge surprises. That happened to me more than 25 years ago when a man I had deeply admired from afar took a personal interest in me and my life. Why, I will never know.
I pastored a small, obscure church and was one of thousands of leaders who looked to him for insight and spiritual leadership. I regularly attended his pastors conferences and dreamed of meeting him. I bought hundreds of his cassette tapes and wore them out listening to them.
Then one day my dream came true: I met him when we officiated a wedding together. Not only did I meet him, but he invited me to attend his first Pastoral School of Nurture. This began a 25-year relationship that changed my life.
The man I speak of is Pastor Jack Hayford — the most brilliant human being I have ever met. He was a prolific author and songwriter, although his wife, Anna, told me it actually was she who “wrote” his most beloved song, “Majesty.” All the while he was laughing and said: “It is true. I was driving the car when the Lord gave me the song and I asked Anna to grab a pen and start writing it down.”
Pastor Jack had a vast intellectual ability, but that is not what captured a person’s heart. It was his wisdom and the spirit of revelation that accompanied it. The very thing the Apostle Paul prayed for in Ephesians 1:17 came to life in this giant of a man. He was prayerful and Spirit-led. Insightful and kind. He knew when to speak and what to say to make a difference. He cast such a large shadow.
For me, Pastor Jack was always there. One time, when I was filled with unbelief that God would provide for the new land Water of Life was purchasing, Pastor Jack sat down, without me ever mentioning a thing, and wrote a check for $10,000 out of his personal checking account. His only comment was, “God is going to do this and I want to be a part of it.” I was staggered, as you can imagine.
There are certain human beings that, when they pass from this life into Jesus’ presence, we lose more than just their presence. We lose a season. A time of when things that were will never be again. It was so with Moses’ passing. Joshua 1:2 tells us, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan.” And this is so with the passing of Pastor Jack.
We have lost a giant and I have lost my spiritual father into eternity, which he always reminded me isn’t a time but a place where the “King rules in his kingdom.”
Thank you, Pastor Jack, for being all God asked you to be. You have forever touched us.
(Dan Carroll is the senior pastor of Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, California. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)